Celebrities in the Morning:
Have you ever had the feeling that you didn’t deserve something, but was freely given to you? That’s how I felt when our group study exchange sponsored by Rotary came to the town of Dharapuram. They had school girls miss half day of school, so their teachers could take them to the Rotary Hall to perform welcome dances and yoga demonstration for us. We almost felt like celebrities welcoming us with flowers and banners.
Who are we? Why are we being treated this way? We are the ones who are supposed to learn from them. I feel so undeserving of the love and hospitality that they gave us.
We don’t have much to give back, but to show our appreciation from our city (Houston), we spent some time with them and we gave the girls pictures of the shuttle and astronauts from NASA. These are some gifts NASA donated to our team. I hope it inspired them somehow to “reach for the stars” – whatever their dreams may be.
Meeting a local tribe in Kanthalloor:
That afternoon, with our new friends from Dharapuram, we drove for more than 4 hours on a very bumpy zig zag road to go up the mountains to the jungle of Kanthalloor. The roads were so windy and unpaved that 2 of my teammates didn’t take that very well. They were both very dizzy. We opened the bus windows for them, so they could have some fresh air.
When we reached the mountain at dusk, no matter how tired we were, per the unanimous decision of the team, we still wanted to see and meet up with a local tribe. It was not a very far walk – about 20 minutes. The tribe have their own language, so even the local Indians used a translator. That was so National Geographic-like.
They had a bonfire going in the middle of the small village/community to give light to us and to them. Some of the locals allowed up to go inside their houses and meet their family. I got to take a peek of how they lived. Most of them sleep on the ground and they wear colorful clothes. There was a distinct separation of the role of the men and women. The men met and greeted us and I saw the women inside the house with their children. Most of them are farmers.
I was so thankful they took us there. It was a privilege. I was also thankful that I took my flashlight with me because on our way back, it was pitch dark and I was the only one with a light.